Recruiting on Social Media: Is it Worth Your Time?

Doug Horn on August 9, 2014 1:38:00 PM EDT

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Amidst all the selfies, New Year’s resolutions, and invitations to play Candy Crush you see daily on various social media websites, quality candidates exist, just waiting to be hired. The question isn’t where they are hiding, but whether recruiting on these social media outlets is an effective strategy that’s worth your time.

It should be noted that LinkedIn is not included in this post’s definition of “social media,” as it has become a goliath for hiring in its own right. LinkedIn has been on meteoric rise since it first launched in 2003, and has become the defacto database of candidates online. 73% of all social hires in 2011 came from LinkedIn, so it seems fair to say there should be no debate about your company using it. No, this blog will focus on the Facebooks, the Twitters, and the MySpaces, although to be fair, if your company is using MySpace to source, you may be more doomed than you realize.

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In order to recruit successfully on social media, you need to know that you’ll need time. Facebook is not a job board, it’s a place to see pictures of all your exes. Just kiddingkinda. But to maximize your effectiveness on social media platforms, you can't just post your opening and wait for the flood of resumes to hit you.

The beauty of sites like Facebook and Twitter is that they offer you great outlets to engage with your potential hires. You can get a feel for how they interact with others and even sneak a peek at all their embarrassing pictures. Do they have a mobile upload of them sitting in an opium den? Well, you’re probably not going to hire them. But that’s a good thing! Facebook lets you get a feel for potential new employees before pulling the trigger.

The downside to sourcing from these social media outlets is that they take both a long time and a lot of human engagement. Is your attrition rate higher than you budgeted for? Are you having trouble keeping your seats warm in the office? Then sourcing through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter may not be the best or most logical way for you to find job candidates. You’re going to have to assign someone to engage these prospects, and it can’t just be Chip the Social Media Intern. It needs to be a qualified HR professional, and you need to determine if it’s worth that employee’s time to trawl these platforms for strong candidates. Social recruiting is not just spamming your target market and hoping for the best. It takes time, patience, and maybe some witty repartee between employer and candidate to ensure you’re attracting qualified candidates who are interested in the job.

Recruiting on social media works well when you have a strong internal referral network. If your employees are engaging on your company’s Facebook page, for instance, they can tag friends who they believe would be a good cultural fit for a particular opening. Considering 1 in 10 referral candidates are hired compared to 1 in 100 general applicants, you’re going to want to take advantage of sites like Facebook and Twitter to find these hidden gems. In 2011, Facebook even beat out LinkedIn in a critical hiring metric, garnering 43% of all social referral hires to 41% for LinkedIn. That alone should tell you how much potential social media has for sourcing quality candidates.

Ultimately, it comes down to time and how strong of a social media presence your company has. If you have the time and the patience to actively network and engage in target groups and communities, as Crawford Thomas says, then recruiting on social media could benefit you greatly. If you’re losing bodies at a rate you did not anticipate or just simply need to hire quicker, however, there are other options…like RecruitiFi.